Designs for a proposed new bridge in East London have been unveiled by the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry as part of a campaign to secure political and public backing for the scheme.
Designed by architects HOK and Arup, the bridge would link Beckton and Thamesmead at Gallions Reach.
Supporters say the £600m scheme would boost East London’s economy by up to £55m each year but critics say it would increase congestion and pollution in the area.
Colin Stanbridge, Chief Executive of LCCI, said: “Nearly half of London’s population lives east of Tower Bridge yet they are served by only two fixed road river crossings.
“It is an area with huge amounts of potential and while the Olympics acted as a crucible for creativity and dynamism in the area, its future growth is being held back by this gap in transport infrastructure”.
The organisation has launched a petition calling on Mayor Boris Johnson to support the scheme.
Local campaigners have long opposed the construction of a bridge in the area and welcomed the Mayor’s decision in 2008 to scrap plans for an earlier scheme. However Mr Johnson has recently u-turned and indicated his support for a new crossing.
Val Shawcross, Labour’s transport spokesperson on the London Assembly, said the Mayor’s initial decision had damaged the area’s economy.
She added: “A new bridge would boost road capacity, public transport connections and cycling and pedestrian routes, but must be designed and managed in a way that minimises noise and air pollution. Additional river crossings in East London are demonstrably needed, and I look forward to TfL’s consultation on how to take this option forward.”
Sadiq Khan, Labour’s Shadow London Minister and potential Mayoral runner, said London “desperately needs” the bridge.
However Green Party Assembly Member Darren Johnson said evidence to a public inquiry on an earlier scheme had cast doubt on claimed economic benefits.
He added: “Local people have been rejecting plans for this bridge for over thirty years and the latest set of pretty artist drawings won’t disguise the fact that this new road will bring pollution and traffic jams to their area.”
Friends of the Earth Campaigner jenny Bates warned that any increase in road traffic would “worsen air pollution which is currently way over EU limits set to protect health in the area, and was responsible for the premature death of 98 people in Newham and 119 in Greenwich in 2010.”
She called on Transport for London to “invest in a package of non-road measures including more walk, cycle and public transport crossings – which would be cheaper and would also help road users by getting vehicles which don’t need to be there off the existing roads.”